Why Praying the Psalms is So Enriching and One Way to Do It
- Kelly Givens Editor, iBelieve.com
- 2017 23 Feb
Making the Psalms a consistent part of our time studying the Bible is enriching and important. The Psalms are meant to be sung and prayed, but so often we just read through them on our own for words of encouragement. So this year, I decided I wanted to approach my favorite book of the Bible a little differently. In the past, my go-to method for reading the Psalms was usually to read a psalm a day, and pray and meditate over that psalm. Sometimes I followed a reading plan or sometimes I just found a psalm I knew I enjoyed. That was fine, but though I was covering a lot of ground by reading a different psalm each day, I wasn’t writing any of them on my heart. I knew bits and pieces of many psalms, but I want entire psalms memorized and stored in my head for times when I desperately need to speak truth to myself.
So I’m doing something different now, and it’s enriching and breathing life into my personal times of prayer and worship. Rather than going broad, I’m going deep – I’ve chosen 7 different psalms, assigned them a day of the week, and have tried my hardest to make time each day to pray through and meditate on that day’s particular psalm.
I thought for a long time about which psalms I wanted to choose. I wanted to pick ones lengthy enough to challenge me and give me a lot to think about week after week, but not too long so that I couldn’t pray through it in a sitting (sorry Psalm 119). I also wanted different psalms to address different needs in the spiritual life.
Before I choose my seven psalms, I made note of the different categories of psalms available. Different people categorize the psalms differently, but here is a brief list of some of the different types of psalms in the Bible:
- Individual and Communal Laments – this is the largest category. These psalms lay a troubling situation before the Lord and ask him for help. They can be about broad community problems or individual struggles.
- Individual and Communal Thanksgiving – like the laments, these can be for a larger group or a single person – thanking God for answering a petition.
- Psalms of Praise/Blessings – these are songs meant to bring us to worship and thank God, usually reminding the reader of God’s great attributes and inviting us to worship God for who He is.
- Songs of Confidence/Comfort – these psalms enable worshippers to deepen trust in God by reminding us of God’s goodness and plan for us.
- Historical Psalms – these help worshipers reflect on what God has done in the past in order to help us trust him in the future.
- Wisdom Psalms – these psalms build on themes found in the Wisdom books (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon).
With those categories in mind, I tried to choose 7 different types. I want to be able to have different psalms memorized so I can recall them for any type of situation that arises.
If you’re interested, here’s what I ultimately chose:
Sunday – Psalm 92. This is a hymn of blessing and praise, specifically meant for the Sabbath. Worship is the focus of this psalm and I felt like I had no choice but to start my week off here!
Monday – Psalm 16. This is my favorite psalm, a psalm of confidence. I knew I wanted to include it in my list and decided it would be a good way to start my work week off. It reminds me of God’s goodness and good plan for my life.
Tuesday – Psalm 37. This is a wisdom psalm and reminds me every time I read it that worry and fear are futile because God is in control of all things. This psalm convicts and humbles me every time I pray through it.
Wednesday – Psalm 121. This is another psalm of comfort and confidence. I struggle with anxiety and have several friends who struggle with anxiety, and I use this psalm as a prayer I pray aloud to myself, almost daily. Memorizing this psalm has been a powerful weapon in my spiritual warfare arsenal. It reminds me that though I have limits, God is limitless and is forever watching over me and my loved ones. Thank you, Lord.
Thursday – Psalm 77. This is a psalm of lament and the one that took me the longest to choose. There are so many psalms of lament that have spoken to my heart over the years, but I finally settled on this one because I felt like it could be a prayer I could recall for myself or for others when they need a friend to pray over them. There are some deep, deep truths in the psalm that speak incredible comfort and assurance for the hurting.
Friday – Psalm 32. Though my Bible classifies this as a psalm of thanksgiving, I use this as a confessional prayer each week. Though hopefully I’ve been confessing sin all week, Friday is my time to really grapple with my sin and remind myself of God’s grace and forgiveness.
Saturday – Psalm 103. This is a psalm of blessing and praise, celebrating the abundant goodness and love of the Lord. I love praying through this psalm on Saturday morning when I’m the only one awake and I am filled with gratitude thinking about the weekend ahead, usually full of simple joys with my family and friends.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be reading, meditating on and praying through these seven particular psalms. I really want them all memorized, and I’m nowhere near that yet, so I will probably be sticking to these seven for some time. The practice has been encouraging and convicting, and I’m glad I’ve changed up how I approach this part of the Bible.
What’s your favorite psalm? Let me know which one and why in the comments!
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and son and enjoys reading, writing, and spending time in the great outdoors.